Lapeer launches marketing efforts for White property

City of Lapeer officials, community stakeholders and a team of planning experts met last Friday to discuss <a class=marketing and development plans for the former ET White Jr. High School property. . Photo by Wes Smith” width=”300″ srcset=”×149.jpg 300w,×510.jpg 1024w,×382.jpg 768w,×199.jpg 400w,×100.jpg 201w, 1157w” src=”×149.jpg” data-sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px” class=”wp-image-271663 size-medium lazyload”/>

City of Lapeer officials, community stakeholders and a team of planning experts met last Friday to discuss marketing and development plans for the former ET White Jr. High School property. . Photo by Wes Smith

LAP – A team of planning and marketing experts, city officials and stakeholders met last Friday at Tilted Axis Brewing Company in downtown Lapeer to start the process that they hope will ultimately lead for the sale and development of a city-owned property that is the former site of ET White Jr. High School.

Lynée Wells, owner of Grand Rapids-based Aligned Planning, Maleah Rakestraw, landscaper at Williams & Works also in Grand Rapids, Rob Bacigalupi, director and consultant for Mission North in Traverse City, and Richard Murphy, program manager for the Michigan Municipal League ( MML) in Lansing are the team of experts assembled to help Lapeer market the property through a grant funded by the Michigan Main Street branch of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Wells explained the team’s task on Friday and the mission ahead. “We gathered information from business owners and some elected officials to help us better understand Lapeer,” she said of Friday’s meeting. “Ultimately, we will take community feedback and match it with local planning and zoning rules, market research, a financial development form, and planning and design best practices. The information will form a request for proposals that the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the city can use to promote to the development community. The goal is to sell the land and see it develop as a productive space and a place that meets the needs of the community.

Tim Roodvoets, owner of the Lapeer agency in downtown Lapeer and chairman of the Lapeer Main Street Downtown Development Authority (DDA), was among those gathered on Friday. “I think the city has done a good job of bringing together a team of professionals to work with all of us to come up with a vision of what we’d like to see and then market it to developers,” Roodvoets said. “The format of the meeting was interesting in that we thought we were going to talk more, rather than the informal conversation that took place at the various tables. From the conversation that took place at our table, I thought it was effective.

Also present at the meeting was James Alt, Executive Director of the DDA. “I’m encouraged by the conversations regarding the White Jr. High property and really enjoyed the format of Friday’s meeting,” Alt said. “I think the casualness of the meeting created more honest discussion and feedback for the MML and MEDC representatives who were present. Of course, what I’m most looking forward to is hearing the ideas of our community. I think there is a rare opportunity with this site to really create something special that not only benefits the city and downtown, but also meets the needs of the community.

In 2020, Lapeer Community Schools transferred ownership of the 7.4-acre property from the school district to the city. A developer hired by the school district could do nothing with the property, and the plot languished for years before being given to the City. The property is zoned for a mixed-use development which could include a mix of commercial, retail and housing. The old school building which had been unused for 13 years was demolished last summer.

The building was constructed in 1923 and housed the first Lapeer High School, followed by a period housing White Junior High School. The establishment ceased class operations in 1995 and after its complete closure in January 2008, the property had been up for sale for nearly a decade.

The building had steadily fallen into disrepair. Various organizations and local interests had considered using the White Building over the years, but the costs of bringing the building up to code were prohibitive.

Friday’s meeting was the first step towards what could be a development to include retail, professional offices as well as multi-family housing (apartments, condominiums). Earlier this year, Lapeer City Manager Dale Kerbyson said of the site, “It’s a clean slate. We do not want to limit the type of proposals that developers can bring to us. »

Wells said plans are underway to gather more feedback from Lapeer citizens and business owners. “We will share a community survey in the coming weeks and follow up with a public meeting,” she said.

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